"Morgan, wake up." Someone was shaking me, the acid pain in my shoulder driving me insane. I wanted to scream, but my voice caught on the lump in my throat. "We have to get moving."
I shrieked in my head, telling him to leave me alone. I wanted to sink into darkness, to hide from the pain. My thoughts were incoherent, and I couldn't remember why I was here, where I was, or who was with me. I didn't want to care. I just wanted to escape this agony.
Warmth seeped into my shoulder, taking the edge from my pain. I shuddered, gasping, but regained some of my senses. I lay on a hard surface, a rock digging into my back. The air was chill, heavy with moisture, and stank of rotten garbage. Whomever my companion was, they sat against my side, chanting lowly.
Eventually, I could open my eyes. My breath still came in ragged gasps, and I was crying softly. A handsome young man looked down on me, his face lined with concern. He was generating the warmth in my shoulder, his hands just above the broken bone. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah, sorta." I tried to sit up, but the effort sent searing pain through my shoulder, ripping a scream from me. Sweat beaded on my forehead, and I bit my lip.
"Don't move. I haven't finished getting you fixed."
Whimpering, I tried to hold still. Every breath hurt, and my body temperature started fluctuating wildly. His power continued pouring into me, focused on my shoulder, but I couldn't follow what he was doing.
Minutes passed. I faded in and out of consciousness as he worked, my upper arm starting to twitch. Things shifted and crunched, things my mind refused to comprehend in an effort to keep my sanity.
He withdrew his hands, swearing quietly. "What's wrong?" I asked tremulously. I felt like I'd been through the wringer. I needed to sleep for a few years to recover from this.
"It won't heal completely."
I shifted my arm, and it moved freely. Nothing grated, nothing stretched. Other than a throbbing pain, my shoulder felt fine. I told him so, studying his face.
"Physically, yes, it's fine. But Vara hit you right as we shifted, right when your spirit was the most vulnerable. That's what won't heal, what's still causing you pain."
I sat up with minimal groaning, but I hurt like I was still broken. Ethereal pain, if my healer were to be believed. Something in my soul, not my body. "How does that even work?"
"Your spirit and body are tied together. For someone like you, with a great quantity of spirit, there is that much more ethereal substance to damage. My powers are limited on this plane, preventing me from healing that spiritual damage." He frowned, clearly concerned, and laid his hand over mine. "I apologize, Morgan. You deserve so much better than this."
The pain was down to an arthritic ache, constant, but not sharp and distracting. Something I could live with for a while. I stretched, testing my shoulder, wincing as the ethereal wound shot pain down to my fingertips. I could live with it so long as I didn't push myself. I'd do my best to take it easy.
I glanced at my companion, running a hand through my hair. "Not to sound rude," I started, "but who are you, and where are we?"
He tried to keep his face still, but I saw the slight widening of his eyes. "You don't remember?"
"Nope. Everything's a blur. I kind of remember that we're going somewhere together, but that's it." I was beginning to worry.
He sighed, looking away. I studied our surroundings as he contemplated his answer. We were in an alley, brick buildings looming above us, darkness above that. No stars or moon, nothing to prove there was a sky above. The asphalt was dry, and there was no garbage, making me wonder if we were in an uninhabited section. I didn't hear anyone, and there were no lights in any of the windows.
The young man returned his gaze. "I'm Steven. You're Morgan. You work for the Gray Lords, and you're trying to return me to them. We appear to be in a Between Ghetto, and I don't know how we're getting out of here."